At Turnier Cafe in Norwalk, a hardcover book sits in a stand on top of the juice refrigerator. If a tiny, spritely young girl is behind the counter serving up some food and some of the best coffee in the city, be sure to ask her to sign a copy for you. It's her book.
An unassuming 19-year-old, Isamarie "Izzy" Rodriguez is a lifelong Norwalk resident and it's newest published author, with The Hidden World now on shelves.
"I wanted to do something different," Rodriguez said.
And Rodriguez is different. Turnier Cafe is only one of her two jobs. She's also employed at Walmart. Rodriguez said she works so hard because she's saving up money for culinary school. She works at Turnier Cafe because it gives her experience working towards that goal.
"I enjoy serving people," Rodriguez said. "I enjoy telling stories and I enjoy cooking."
Rodriguez said she began writing The Hidden World when she was 14 and called it a work in progress throughout her entire high school career and helped her open up and communicate in ways with which she wasn't previously comfortable.
"I was really shy," she said. "I wanted to reach out to people through my writing, and I think this book was a good way to do it."
The Hidden World is about a young girl living in a city where gang violence is rampant. The girl's own mother is involved in gang activity but the girl discovers a bible in her mother's closet and decides to begin evangelizing. The book examines issues that arise when faith and street code conflict.
A second book is in the works, while Rodriguez heals from injuries suffered in a recent car accident. She was a passenger in a vehicle that rolled over on I-95. She was able to walk away with just a temporary cast on a bad sprain.